Last Updated on May 26, 2023
Travelers across the globe have ‘backpacking through Europe’ on their bucket list, and it’s one trip I recommend everybody takes – especially Americans. You can experience so many different cultures, so much history, so many countries – all just a stone’s throw away from each other. It’s a huge milestone for any traveler, and there are countless places to explore in Europe. The best thing about Europe is that most countries are inexpensive, and with some money-saving tips, you’ll be able to travel Europe on a budget.
If you want to go on a backpacking trip around Europe, follow these tips to help you save money while exploring exquisite travel spots throughout Europe:
How to travel Europe on a Budget
1 Budget Accommodation in Europe
Hostels and Dorms in Europe
Staying in hostels and dorms is my #1 tip for traveling Europe on a budget. You may think hostels are only meant for young people, but you’ll be surprised to know that people from all age groups prefer staying in hostels on their backpacking trips. Some hostels even provide single and double rooms for people who don’t like sharing their accommodation with other travelers, so don’t be put off by the thought of sharing a room with other people.
My favorite thing about hostels is that there is usually a common area or lounge, which is great for meeting other travelers, and they often offer social activities such as pub crawls or free walking tours of the city you’re visiting – so if you’re traveling solo but you’d like to connect with other travelers, I highly recommend staying in hostels. Staying in hostels is something everyone who backpacks around Europe does.
2 Eating Cheap in Europe
Cook Your Own Meals
Staying at a hostel or an Airbnb means that you have a kitchen. And considering food is one of the major expenses while traveling, the best thing you can do is to buy fresh ingredients and cook for yourself. It may not be feasible all the time, but you will be saving a lot of cash to spend elsewhere. If you want to travel Europe on a budget, you shouldn’t eat out three times a day – plan on making at least one meal a day in your hostel / Airbnb.
Eat Like A Local
Avoiding restaurants and eateries at tourist spots and finding the ones located a few blocks away will get you the best deals on food (as the food is always more expensive in touristy areas).
Eat Street Food
While traveling across Europe, you will easily spot food stalls around you all the time. Europe has a rich street food culture, and you could easily grab something to eat, like a slice of pizza or a crepe without having to shell out a fortune. Indulging in seafood across different countries may also prove to be a delicious experience. In Germany, you can get a kebab for as little as €3, in England you can get the popular supermarket ‘meal deals’ that include a sandwich, a drink and a bag of chips or fresh fruit for around £3, and in many cities in Spain you get FREE tapas when you order a beer or a glass of wine (which shouldn’t be more than €3).
3 Finding Budget Transportation in Europe
Getting Around Europe on The Cheap
I have already shared my best tips on how to get around Europe on the cheap in detail, but my number one app to book cheap transportation in Europe is Omio. This app lets you put in the city you leave from and your destination, and shows you every possible way to get there (bus, train, plane), and how much each option will cost you. This app is my go-to app every time I backpack around Europe.
Cycling or Walking in Europe
Exploring a city on your feet or on two wheels is an immersive experience, and a must try. It doesn’t only help you save money, but also keeps you fit while on the road. Most European cities have bikeshare systems that cost little money, and many cities now also have electric scooters that enable you to get around faster and cheaper than ever before.
Budget Airlines in Europe
A little research before booking your air tickets could get you cheap flight tickets. Hence, it is advisable to book your tickets in advance as they tend to be cheaper when booked months before. WhichBudget is a great tools that tells you which airlines cover the route you’re planning to take.
4 Cheap Luggage Storage In Europe
The great thing about Airbnb is that you can rent a room in someone else’s apartment for very little money – but the disadvantage is that you usually cannot store your luggage if you have a flight that leaves long after your check-out time, because usually the next guest is checking in right away or the host may not be around to hand over your luggage to you. But luckily, a number of companies have sprung up to solve this very problem, which is excellent for anyone who wants to travel Europe on a budget.
LuggageHero is one of the companies with the best coverage in European cities, for example:
Two more luggage storage companies that operate all over Europe are:
In addition, you find luggage storage in almost every train station in Europe.
5 Free Walking Tours in Europe
If you want to save money on sightseeing, I recommend starting your exploration of each city you visit with a free walking tour. I take a free walking tour in every city on my very first day, because not only do these tours give you a great overview of the city, but the guides are usually very budget-savvy themselves and always have great recommendations for cheap eats, happy hours and bars with cheap beers.
The guides are a wealth of information for anyone backpacking around Europe, because many of them go on backpacking trips themselves when they’re not working. Here are some of the companies that I’ve used in Europe – make sure to book a spot online, because they tend to get very busy, especially in the summer, and DON’T FORGET TO TIP YOUR GUIDE!! (They have to eat, too.) An appropriate amount would be €10 – €20, depending on how much you enjoyed the tour.
- Free Tours By Foot is one of the largest operator of free walking tours in the entire world, they cover most European cities.
- Sandeman’s New Europe: one of the most popular operators of free walking tours in Europe, offering free walking tours in Barcelona, Lisbon, Rome, Brussels, Berlin, Hamburg, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Liverpool, Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Munich, Seville, and more!
- Good Tours operate in three cities: Vienna, Prague and Krakow
These tours are not free, but Get Your Guide is an aggregator of tours and attractions worldwide, worth checking for skip-the-lines tickets and tours that take you ‘off the beaten path’:
Don’t Forget: Get International Travel Insurance
Traveling to unknown places involves several risks: missing flights, losing luggage, getting sick or getting into an accident, or being mugged. I can’t stress it enough: you should always get international travel insurance when you plan a trip. This is a cost that you have to factor into your travel budget, and something you shouldn’t forgo in favor of a few beers or nice dinners during your trip.
Although international travel insurance cannot help you avoid misfortunes during your travel, it will offer relief in the form of monetary compensation.
Five budget-friendly cities you have to visit when you travel Europe on a budget
Yes, some European cities aren’t cheap – especially in Scandinavian countries, or Dublin – but there are a lot of places where you can go when you travel Europe on a budget – without breaking the bank. Here are five cities that are great for anyone traveling Europe on a budget:
- Leon, Spain: If you consider yourself a foodie, this should be on your list
- Krakow, Poland: Krakow is an awesome combination of great food, culture, history, and parties at night
- Berlin, Germany:: If observing and learning about the culture of the place you visit fascinates you, you have to visit Berlin
- Porto, Portugal: Porto is the perfect introduction to Portuguese culture: it’s not as overrun with tourists as Lisbon (yet!), but offers the same great food, architecture, and laid back lifestyle
- Brasov, Romania: If adventure and hiking is what you are looking for, Romania is the perfect candidate, and Brasov makes for a great base.
So, stop making excuses! Pack your bags and get planning. Europe is waiting for you!